During her first term, and during her service as acting dean the year before, Elish-Piper has overseen the development and launch of the college’s Strategic Action Planning Framework as well as the introduction of several new academic programs, the expansion of unparalleled opportunities for experiential learning, the opening of new learning spaces and the enhancement of partnerships with community and alumni.
Chief among these is her PLEDGE (Partnering to Lead and Empower District-Grown Educators) initiative, which is confronting the teacher shortage and supplying classrooms with a culturally diverse workforce.
One component of PLEDGE – a seamless transfer agreement for Elementary Education majors who start at Elgin Community College before enrolling in the NIU Department of Curriculum and Instruction for their final two years – recently celebrated the graduation of 15 new teachers for their hometown schools.
Elish-Piper developed a Dean’s Grant program to advance research and instruction; the College of Education Awards program; a leadership-focused professional development program for faculty; and a Senior Faculty Fellow program.
She also created the Educator in Residence program, which already has honored four successful alumni and allowed current students to interact with these accomplished graduates.
Under her leadership, the college’s Educate and Engage program has added numerous new destinations and hands-on learning experiences throughout the region, across the country and around the world. During COVID-19, Educate and Engage continued – and even grew – via virtual platforms.
Meanwhile, enrollment also has grown.
In September 2020, the College of Education welcomed greater numbers of undergraduates, graduate students and transfers while also achieving its highest-ever retention percentage.
Beyond her work on campus, Elish-Piper was in 2018 selected as an Impact Academy Fellow by the national Deans for Impact organization. In 2019, she was named a Deans for Impact member dean.
The dean first joined NIU in August 1995 as an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Akron, an M.S.Ed. from Purdue University and a B.S.Ed. from Saint Joseph’s College.